The 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 32nd Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 20 and 21 June 1964. It was also the ninth round of the 1964 World Sportscar Championship season.
1964 24 Hours of Le Mans Wikipedia
In 1963, Ford had almost won the Indianapolis 500 on its first try with Lotus. The Indianapolis powerplant, a 4.2L aluminum block Fairlane engine with a Colotti gearbox, was installed in the new Ford GT40s.
The new white and blue coupe made its first appearance in April at Le Mans test days. The results were disappointing, as the car was unstable on the straight, however Ford sent one car to Germany for Phil Hill and Bruce McLaren to race in the 1000km Nürburgring. The GT40 qualified second to a Ferrari 275P, but retired after 15 laps. Ford entered three GT40s in the 24 Hours and could also count on Shelby's Cobra Daytona coupés and a works Le Mans Coupé entered by AC.
Even if the reliability of the GT40 was questionable, Ferrari took Ford as a serious threat. The works entered four prototypes at Le Mans, three 3.3L 275Pa and a 4.0L 330P. Other Ferrari prototypes, including two 330Ps, were entered by the British team Maranello Concessionaires, the Belgian team Equipe Nationale Belge and the American North American Racing Team (NART).
Pedro Rodríguez took the best start with the NART 330P. Richard Attwood's No. 12 Ford GT-40 caught fire in the evening. Phil Hill drove the sole surviving GT40, and broke into the top three coming from 32nd during the night and establishing a lap record at 131.375 mph (211.4 km/h). Just before 05:30, Phil brought the last GT40 to the pits. After some discussion between Ford officials, the cause of the retirement was a gearbox failure. Ferraris took the top three spots, with the factory Ferrari of Jean Guichet and Nino Vaccarella winning. The race saw the first success for Shelby American, with the Daytona Coupe first in the GT class, fourth overall.
The race was marred by the deaths of 3 spectators caused by an accident during nighttime hours. James Gilbert and Lionel Yvonnick, both 19 from Western France and Jacques Ledoux, 17 from Paris were standing at a point at the section between Arnage and Maison Blanche, were hit by Giancarlo Baghetti's Ferrari and Peter Bolton's AC Cobra. Bolton's Cobra suffered a tyre blow out on a fast corner, and he ended up in Baghetti's path, and the two cars collided and hit the three spectators. The three people were standing in a forbidden zone of the circuit. Baghetti emerged uninjured, and Bolton was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
Failed to cover 70% of winner's distance (244 laps)Pole Position - #19 SpA Ferrari SEFAC - 3:42.0
Fastest Lap - #10 Ford Motor Company - 3:49.2
Distance - 4695.31 km
Average Speed - 195.638 km/h
Index of Performance - #20 SpA Ferrari SEFAC
Index of Thermal Efficiency - #46 Société des Automobiles Alpine